A pipe opener over 500m on Friday worked the oracle for classy sprinter Dawn Patrol as he downed a quality field over 1400m at Ellerslie on Saturday.
The five-year-old Dawn Approach gelding was having his second start in a new campaign after finishing well back in the Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) first-up at Te Rapa.
Trainer Frank Ritchie was keen to get plenty of work into his charge after he faded out badly in his first run, to the point where he gave him an extra assignment 24 hours before today's contest.
"He's a big, gross horse who blew like hell after his first run," Ritchie said. "I gave him a gallop on Wednesday and he blew after that as well so I gave him another sprint over 500m on Friday.
"It's not something I do that often but it allowed him to open his pipes and get that extra fitness edge. The only problem is that it makes him sweat up and he was in a bit of a lather today.
"The good thing is today's race will bring him on further so I don't think I'll need to do that again."
Although he finished runner-up to Madison County in the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) as a three-year-old, Ritchie is keen to keep Dawn Patrol to the sprint distances in this campaign with an eye to the Group 1 Sistema Railway (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year's Day.
"I wanted to see what happened today before I look any further down the track," he said.
"I was thinking about going to New Plymouth instead of Ellerslie but the heavy track put me off as he wasn't seasoned enough for that.
"I've got a few ideas for him but I'll wait to see what the handicapper does before I look to finalise anything.
"Races like the Railway, where he ran fourth last year, will be on his radar along with a couple of the lead-up events.
"He's actually from a family of stayers but he goes so well over the sprint distances that we'll keep him to that at this stage."
● Matamata galloper Supreme Heights produced a gritty performance to lead all the way when winning today's Group 3 NZB Ready To Run Sale Trainers Series (1400m) at New Plymouth.
The lightly raced Jimmy Choux five-year-old relished the testing heavy10 underfoot conditions as she repelled the challenges of local mares London Express and Ladies First to register her sixth career victory.
Rider Sam Collett asked for a final effort in the run home and the answer was immediate as Supreme Heights drove clear to win by a length and a half at the line.
Trainer Mark Brosnan had been worried about the testing track conditions before the race but was relieved to see how well his charge handled the going during the race.
"From that wide draw, it was a very tough effort," he said.
- NZ Racing Desk